Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Is it right that we introduce children to toys and books by gender category?

Have you heard about the organisation Let Toys Be Toys ? It is a grass roots campaign that is run by volunteers and is aimed at marketers, retailers and book publishers asking that they organise toys/books by theme rather than gender. The main focus is to persuade toy shops and toy departments to take away aisles and shelves that are for ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ and to take down the pink and blue signs in stores and on packaging, and instead let toys be toys

To all intents and purposes Let Toys Be Toys is a pressure group designed to persuade retailers and toy manufacturers to stop categorizing toys by gender and for publishers to stop labeling books for boys or for girls. Interested to know more visit Let Toys be Toys a researching group, a non-profit organization, with a focus on children and play here

To help children understand gender identity themselves (as it is not quite as simple as pink and blue), there's a new picture book from Bloomsbury called Introducing Teddy. The hook line says it is 'a story about being yourself' and it goes like this: 

'Little boy, Errol has a boy teddy bear friend called, Thomas and they play together everyday doing all sorts of fun things. Secretly, however, Thomas would rather be known as a girl bear called Tilly. This would make life much happier for a uptight little bear who is worried to tell Errol in case he doesn't want to be a friend anymore. But when he is told Errol understands and reassures teddy by saying  'I don't care if you're a boy teddy or a girl teddy! What matters is that you are my friend!'
So Thomas becomes Tilly by simply switching his bow tie for a hair bow! 

The real moral of the tale and how it fits with this blog theme today, is that after the bear has revealed inner fears and feelings, the two friends continue to play and do the same things as before, nothing changes. Tilly and Errol still enjoy adventure games and playing in the park with Ava too, and indoor tea parties when it's raining, their choice of fun and games do not change in any way, so a sweet take on a difficult theme by author, Jessica Walton and the story defining illustrations by Dougal MacPherson are quite lovely.

Meet Jessica Walton and her transgender bear over on Facebook

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